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Steam locos: Do you like to see them running Shiny or Dirty ?

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by toplight, Jan 1, 2018.

  1. toplight

    toplight Member

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    The new Steam Railway magazine dropped on my doormat a few days ago. A letter in it, the writer advocated that he likes Steam Engines looking dirty and unkept and gave this steam roller as an example (see video of it here) so they look like they often did when they were in normal service.



    Other owners want their Engines shiny and polished. I know of an Industrial Engine that was hired by another line and the owner got very upset if it wasn't kept in pristine, polished condition even getting upset that crews were leaning a small ladder against it to climb in the cab in case the paint got scratched.

    Personally I don't like for example seeing things like polished smoke box door hinges etc when they never had this originally. Royal Scot had this when it first started running recently but I see on more recent photos they are painted black now. I don't mind clean and good condition but not 'tarted up' with polished buffers etc.
    Scots Guardsman looked more 'spot on' in terms of condition.

    What do you think, both if you are a loco crew or if you are just a visitor/passenger ? How do you like seeing them ?
     
  2. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Clean. I find that almost all of those who like locos dirty have had no input, financial or physical, towards the restoration' overhaul and ongoing upkeep of these locos. Cleanliness shows pride in the job and also makes a good impression on the travelling public who make up the vast majority of visitors to heritage railways.
    For those who like dirty locos, go buy yourself a loco and then you can keep it as dirty as you like.
     
  3. Richard Roper

    Richard Roper Member

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    It's the owner's preference...
    I love seeing photos of grimy steam engines in the latter years of BR service... The grimy conditions were a product of the working conditions of the time...

    But, if I had just spent many thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of pounds restoring a locomotive, the last thing I would want would be excessive mechanical wear due to a thick coating of grinding paste created by filth being allowed to build up. Grime and filth may have been nice to look at, but it sure as hell buggers mechanical componentry at a rapid rate.
    I know what condition I'd like any Loco of mine in...

    Richard.
     
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  4. I. Cooper

    I. Cooper Member

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    I would say there is room for both, whether talking about road or rail.
    ...but then perhaps I'm biased.

    New engines didn't leave the works dirty, faded and rusty (then again some didn't leave with the high gloss mirror spray paint finish and highly burnished bright work you get these days either). But then few engines finished their working days spotless and pristine either.
    To have all engines looking the same can give perhaps a slightly distorted view.
     
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  5. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Seconded.
     
  6. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    But then, the MNA went to a lot of trouble to clean locos because they wanted them clean and shiny.
     
  7. I. Cooper

    I. Cooper Member

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    Might I ask who do you think was driving the Mclaren in the example?
    ...for bonus points you can take a guess who purchased it, who prepares it, maintains it, and pays for the ongoing upkeep of it?

    It is a fool that mistakes the cleanliness of an engine for "...pride in the job". Cosmetics are just that, don't mistake them for anything more.
     
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  8. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Resident of Nat Pres

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    As crew, clean. When all is said and done, the cab is your office for the day - would you want to come into work in the morning and find all yesterday's rubbish lying around?

    Observing the public, I've never known anyone come up to us on a dirty engine and say "ooh, that looks good" but I've known plenty comment if it is clean and start to ask about how long it takes to prepare etc. and cast admiring glances at brasswork and so on.

    Tom
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
  9. I. Cooper

    I. Cooper Member

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    You seem to have confused two different things - it's perfectly possible to have an engine in unrestored cosmetic condition that's a bit grimy yet mechanically sound, and which has the motion washed down and wiped clean on a regular basis to stop grit grinding away where it isn't wanted. Whether there's rust, oil, grease and grit on the barrel, flaked paint and rust on the smokebox, no paint on the chimney and under a layer of grime original paint on the wheel spokes makes no difference to the running or mechnical condition of the motion and whizzy bits, which can be cleaned down in a fraction the time it would take to polish all the irrelevant bits.
     
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  10. I. Cooper

    I. Cooper Member

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    Funny that - I've only experienced the opposite. Sat on a shiny showman's engine there are few people who walk up and comment on the engine being clean, but spend time with an unrestored engine in steam and if anyone makes comment it'll be about how nice it is to see in the condition 'they remember' - often followed by threats not to change it.

    Interestingly it'll tend to be members of the public who express such opinions more than anyone else, whilst if anyone will express disgust it'll be an 'enthusiast'. Each to their own.
     
  11. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 New Member

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    I have never had a desire to see locomotives in completely spotless, museum-worthy condition. Partly because I'm not overly bothered with cleanliness (I would rather have a dirty loco working than a clean loco sat idle doing nothing), and partly because expecting a loco to be completely spotless in traffic is highly unrealistic given that the loco will dirty itself during a day's work. That's not to say I like locos covered in dirt like they were in the late 60s, but if there's a little bit of dirt on the locos, it doesn't bother me. I've also been involved in cleaning locos which have been in traffic for sufficiently long enough for there to be some sort of dirt ingrained in the paintwork, which isn't anything I'll lose sleep over. The other thing is I'm part of a railway that isn't blessed with an army of cleaners to smarten up the loco each morning, it's generally the responsibility of the crew, when they have spare time in between lighting up the engine, oiling round, maybe coaling, and all the other jobs required in preparation, to do what they can to clean the loco, which may be just wiping a rag over the paintwork to remove what dirt they can, and buffing it a bit. There often isn't time for a complete wash and polish when you've only got two or three people available and they all have other things which are higher on the priority list before the first train. I know of people who can, in my opinion, over-obsess about the cleanliness of a loco, but the standard they want the loco cleaned to would take me a whole day to reach on my own, which isn't possible when I light up at 6:30 and have to be off shed 4 hours later, and in the mean time have preparation duties to complete
     
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  12. estwdjhn

    estwdjhn New Member

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    As someone who contributes at least a bit of effort to the upkeep of various locos, I think it depends on context.

    At the railway where I'm involved as a volunteer we've a particularly pretty industrial that's just gone into traffic, and it's owner has paid a good amount of cash for a particularly good effort at a paint job, including some very elegant lining out. It would be rather tragic if we didn't keep it pretty spick and span (which does take some doing - while waiting for it to come into steam a couple of weeks ago I went over one side of the burnished con rods and coupling rods, and just getting a couple of weeks worth of rust stains off then swallowed a good hour of prep time).

    On the other hand, if you've a loco near the end of its ticket, paintwork rubbing through a bit in places etc, then I'd personally like to see it allowed to go to seed a bit more, and gather a few months worth of plausible "working era" grime. A lot depends what it is - a NCB Austerity so dirty you can't tell what colour it's painted on a rake of tatty 16T minerals looks right, but doing the same thing to a closeted brewery loco that spent more of its working life being polished than moving would be wrong.
     
  13. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    So I'm a fool am I? I must tell all my mates that next time we're cleaning and polishing our loco. "It's only cosmetics lads. No need to bother. Far more people will show interest in her if we keep her unkempt and externally tatty." They'll really appreciate it I'm sure. :rolleyes: Your McLaren, your choice but don't expect everyone else to want their locos looking so shabby. A clean loco is a way of demonstrating pride in the job. Not only that, it's a way of letting your volunteers get involved and building a good team spirit. Not everyone is an engineer and can or even wants to get involved with the mechanical well being of a loco but
    being on the cleaning gang they can feel part of the team.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
  14. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Well I am an Engineer and I can tell you that cleanliness is the first aid to good maintenance. That doesn't mean gleaming polished paintwork as the paintwork gets older but it does mean no dirt. Anyone who thinks dirt is good is totally on the wrong track.
     
  15. maddog

    maddog New Member

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    The idea of locos made to look dirty through paint effects is pretty appealing to me, however Spamcams first post sums the subject up pretty well though I think, fake paint or otherwise.
     
  16. DragonHandler

    DragonHandler Member

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    Totally agree. I used to operate a, small, off-set litho printing press and I kept my machine clean. My workmates thought I was a bit crazy spending time each day cleaning it, but my machine didn't have as many problems as theirs and when it did it was easier to see what was wrong and fix it.
     
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  17. Pesmo

    Pesmo Active Member

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    I like them clean, but I have no objection to deliberate weathering with powder paint that is sometimes done for TV and films etc. Some of it, if well done, can be entirely convincing.
     
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  18. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Well-Known Member

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    As a volunteer fitter at the SVR< I couldn't agree more. A clean engine is easier to maintain: faults are easier to see and small fittings easier to find. The doenside is that someone has to do the cleaning...
     
  19. AndyY

    AndyY Member

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    Clean. It's only in the final years of steam that locomotives were operated in a filthy rundown condition, when I suspect there was a deliberate policy to present them to the public as nasty dirty things which were to be replaced by nice new shiny diesels.
    Not a period to emulate IMHO.
     
  20. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    Apargt from the very valid points made by @LMS2968 and some others there are other considerations. Steam railways are visitor attractions which earn their living from people who do not share "gricer's love of grot."

    PH
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018

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